2023 NFL Draft: 1 Trade That Makes Sense for Each Team
2023 NFL Draft: 1 Trade That Makes Sense for Each Team
0 of 32
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick HenryCourtney Culbreath/Getty Images
The 2023 NFL draft represents an opportunity for teams to improve not only by drafting prospects but also by acquiring veterans in exchange for picks or dumping off unwanted contracts on rival franchises.
There will be no shortage of wheeling and dealing leading up to the start of the first round on April 27 and the end of the seventh round on April 29. In that span, there is at least one move that every single team could make that would be helpful towards accomplishing their goals either for this season or in the future.
With that in mind, here’s a hypothetical trade that makes sense for each of the league’s 32 franchises.
Pick numbers courtesy of DraftTek.com and account for the Miami Dolphins forfeiting No. 21 overall.
Arizona Cardinals: Expedite Rebuild by Dealing Star Veteran
1 of 32
Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Cardinals receive: 2023 second-round pick (No 58), WR Michael Gallup
Cowboys receive: WR DeAndre Hopkins
The Arizona Cardinals find themselves at a point where it’s time to tear things down and start over. The club parted ways with its former head coach and general manager early in the offseason, so a rebuild will allow the new regime to craft a contending roster from the ground up.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport called it a “resetting year” for the organization.
While the team can still build around Kyler Murray, their 25-year-old franchise quarterback who was given a massive contract extension last year, veteran pieces like star wideout DeAndre Hopkins should be considered expendable.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported the Cardinals are seeking “hefty compensation” for Hopkins, including “a premium Day 2 pick and more.”
With Hopkins is on the wrong side of 30 with a cap hit of nearly $31 million for the upcoming campaign, one in which Arizona has little hope of actually contending, they should be happy to get a late second-rounder for his services.
Shipping off the wideout to a team desperate to upgrade the wideout position—such as the Dallas Cowboys—in exchange for No. 58 overall and Michael Gallup would allow the Cardinals to acquire valuable draft capital and a younger talent to replace Hopkins with.
Atlanta Falcons: Move Up to Keep Pace in NFC South
2 of 32
GM Terry FontenotJustin Casterline/Getty Images
Falcons receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 3)
Arizona receives: 2023 first-round pick (No. 8), 2023 second-round pick (No. 44), 2024 first-round pick, QB Desmond Ridder
The Atlanta Falcons are in a tough spot with the No. 8 overall pick and in desperate need of a quarterback to build around.
The rival Carolina Panthers—who were originally picking one spot behind the Falcons at No. 9 before dealing it to the Chicago Bears in a package for the No. 1 overall selection—just showed how costly it can be to guarantee a blue-chip passer, but the Falcons will need to execute a similar deal to secure themselves one in this draft.
While the team already has a young signal-caller in Desmond Ridder—a third-round pick last year—his pedestrian rookie performance and slow development aren’t worth staking the future on. Atlanta could package him up to give the Cardinals an insurance option to coach up behind Kyler Murray, their injury-prone starter.
At No. 3 overall, the Falcons could guarantee a selection of either C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young or Anthony Richardson, the consensus three best passers in the class.
Any one of them would be a fantastic get for this organization and give it the quarterback it has desperately needed since the Matt Ryan era came to an end.
Baltimore Ravens: Keep Lamar Jackson Happy with a Wideout
3 of 32
Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Ravens receive: WR Jerry Jeudy
Broncos receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 86), 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 157)
If the Baltimore Ravens are going to forge ahead with Lamar Jackson under center, they’ll want to execute some moves to keep the star quarterback happy and healthy.
The club could accomplish both of those goals with a single trade for a promising wideout. While there are several veterans Baltimore could choose to target, Jerry Jeudy may have the best blend of skill and upside.
The Denver Broncos drafted Jeudy at No. 15 overall in 2020. His rookie season was solid if unspectacular before injuries marred a chance for him to show growth in 2021. Despite Denver’s collapse last year, Jeudy still managed to bounce back and have his best season as a pro while staying healthy enough to participate in 15 contests.
Still only 23 years old, Jeudy could be the ideal wideout to raise the ceiling on Baltimore’s offense for the foreseeable future. Denver may be willing to part with him for the right price, given his injury history and the new regime coming in.
Pairing him with Rashod Bateman—a first-round pick in 2021—and star tight end Mark Andrews would provide Jackson with a plethora of talented pass-catching weapons, taking the pressure off him to create with his legs and preserve his body after he finished each of the last two seasons banged up.
Buffalo Bills: Upgrade the Backfield
4 of 32
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Bills receive: RB Dalvin Cook
Vikings receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 59)
The Buffalo Bills were one of the favorites to make a Super Bowl run last season. That wouldn’t come to fruition after the offense stalled out in the divisional round, failures that can be pinned on a lackluster ground game.
Despite having a high-powered passing attack led by star quarterback Josh Allen and elite wideout Stefon Diggs to take the pressure off, Buffalo running backs couldn’t consistently capitalize.
Devin Singletary and James Cook combined for an uninspiring 87 yards on 22 carries in a nail-biter against the Miami Dolphins in the wild-card round and regressed to post just 38 yards on 11 totes versus the Cincinnati Bengals the following week.
While the Bills used a second-round pick on Cook last year, it’s clear that the club needs to do more to address its backfield platoon in 2023. Letting Singletary walk as a free agent and replacing him with a top back from the trade market should do the trick.
Although Dalvin Cook is an expensive option and about to enter his seventh year as a professional, the Minnesota Vikings star represents a massive upgrade at a position of clear need for a contender.
While Minnesota isn’t openly shopping Cook, there is reportedly at least one trade offer already on the table for the rusher, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson said on the Mackey & Judd podcast (h/t Will Ragatz of Inside the Vikings). Considering his $14.1 million cap hit and lack of interest in a pay cut, the Vikings could be enticed to move on from the 27-year-old for mild draft compensation.
If the Bills can figure out a way to squeeze in Cook’s contract under the cap and the veteran back can stay healthy, Buffalo will be much better positioned to make a deep playoff run at the end of next season.
Carolina Panthers: Secure a Safety-Net Tight End
5 of 32
Gaelen Morse/Getty Images
Panthers receive: TE Darren Waller
Raiders receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 93)
The Carolina Panthers went all-in to secure the top pick in the 2023 draft. While it cost them a large amount of capital and their top offensive weapon in wideout DJ Moore to get the deal done, they can now select their quarterback of the future.
Carolina shouldn’t be finished working the phones yet, though. The team still needs to bring in more talent to surround their young signal-caller with in order to aid his development.
The tight end spot, in particular, needs a boost, especially when it comes to pass-catching ability. The Panthers lack a proven playmaker at that position and will want to patch that hole as soon as possible.
Darren Waller has the potential to be a key contributor in Carolina, even after an injury-plagued 2022 campaign hurt his stock significantly.
Waller may have seen action in just nine games and had just 388 yards receiving and three touchdowns during a trying year for both him personally and the Las Vegas Raiders last season, but he’s only two years removed from a Pro Bowl 2020 campaign in which he caught 107 passes for 1,196 yards and nine scores.
Getting a big safety net like Waller would be a major boon for Carolina’s first-year passer. It’s a low-risk, high-reward trade that could expedite the Panthers’ rebuild significantly if the tight end can stay healthy.
Chicago Bears: Bolster the Receiver’s Room and Locker Room with Respected Veteran
6 of 32
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Bears receive: WR Mike Evans
Buccaneers receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 53)
The Chicago Bears are flush with draft capital after trading down from No. 1 overall in the upcoming draft. It’s time to cash those assets in and build a contender around quarterback Justin Fields.
One of the best ways to do that would be to acquire a stud wideout like Mike Evans. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just lost quarterback Tom Brady to retirement and have no clear path to contending in 2023. With Evans entering the final year of his deal and age-30 season, there would be no better time to deal him than now.
Evans has put up fantastic numbers even during the Bucs’ pre-Brady lean years and was a captain on a Super Bowl-winning team. He’ll be an ideal fit for Chicago’s locker room and a perfect big-bodied wideout for Fields to target while honing his passing abilities.
Even though the Bears recently acquired fellow star wideout D.J. Moore from the Carolina Panthers, adding Evans into the mix would cap off a complete overhaul of a receivers room that was one of most underwhelming in the league last year.
It shouldn’t end up costing the Bears too much, either. The No. 53 overall pick they acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in the Roquan Smith trade should do the trick.
Cincinnati Bengals: Add a Force on the Edge
7 of 32
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Bengals receive: Edge Khalil Mack
Chargers receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 60), 2023 seventh-round pick (No. 246)
The Cincinnati Bengals came up just shy of making their second consecutive Super Bowl last season. Had they had a transcendent talent like Khalil Mack on the edge for that run, they might be holding the organization’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy right now.
Given L.A.’s need to prioritize a blockbuster extension for quarterback Justin Herbert, it may find it’s time to ship off Mack after just one season with the club. While the team recently restructured Mack’s deal in a move that provided some short-term cap relief, it elevated his cap hit to an untenable $38.5 million in 2024.
Cincinnati should capitalize if Mack becomes available, even if it’s just a one-season rental. He was traded by the Chicago Bears for second- and sixth-round selections and could get dealt for even less this offseason considering the future financial issues that are now hanging over the Chargers in wake of the restructure.
After notching only 30 sacks all of last season, the Bengals desperately need to add a pass-rusher of Mack’s caliber into the mix.
They have the money to take him on thanks to Joe Burrow’s team-friendly rookie deal, and while that will change before his 2025 free agency with what could be a record-setting extension, Mack could give Cincinnati the type of short-term boost the squad needs to propel a Super Bowl run.
Cleveland Browns: Bring in Another Wideout
8 of 32
Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Browns receive: WR Elijah Moore
Jets receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 98)
The Cleveland Browns spared no expense to end their franchise quarterback woes last offseason. After giving Deshaun Watson a megadeal and finally getting him back on the field at the end of last season, they can prepare to become a contender in 2023 by surrounding the signal-caller with some more quality pass-catchers.
Elijah Moore could fit the bill and may be able to turn his career around by getting away from the New York Jets. Moore had a promising rookie year after being drafted by Gang Green in 2021 but saw his usage and stats fall off this past season. These frustrations prompted the 22-year-old to request a trade, a wish that wasn’t granted at the 2022 deadline.
That could change, however, especially if the Jets end up coughing up a good bit of draft capital to get Aaron Rodgers. The organization could recoup some of that value by dealing Moore during the draft to a team like Cleveland, a squad that could feature Moore in a larger role within its system.
While the Browns have a solid No. 1 in Amari Cooper, the rest of their receiving corps is mostly lackluster. Moore could be the big-play weapon the club is missing to round out the offense.
Dallas Cowboys: Add Another Star for the Defense
9 of 32
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Cowboys receive: CB Darius Slay
Eagles receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 90), 2023 fourth-round pick (No. 129)
Already hypothetically landing DeAndre Hopkins from the Arizona Cardinals earlier in this exercise, the Cowboys can balance out their roster by executing a trade for another star talent, this time for the defense.
Darius Slay appears to be on his way out from Philadelphia after he was recently granted permission to seek a trade. He’ll have plenty of suitors as one of the top available corners this offseason, but Cowboys star Micah Parsons already got a jump on it after he tweeted out a recruiting message to the veteran defensive back.
Having Slay and Trevon Diggs on the field together would give Dallas one of, if not the best pair of starting cornerbacks in the NFL.
While it would likely take an overpay to pry Slay away from one of their main rivals, the Cowboys could offer a chance for Philadelphia to get some serious cap relief by taking the 32-year-old on after the Eagles re-work his deal in a sign-and-trade type agreement.
Denver Broncos: Add a Veteran Edge-Rusher
10 of 32
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Broncos receive: Edge Za’Darius Smith
Vikings receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 68)
The Denver Broncos are coming off a trying season, but they’ll have a chance to rise from the ashes under new head coach Sean Payton. If the organization can bring in a few standout veterans to complement the current core, this group will be tougher than expected next season.
Adding a good edge-rusher like Za’Darius Smith—who requested a release from the Minnesota Vikings this offseason and became a trade candidate in the process—into the fold would fill one of Denver’s biggest defensive needs.
The Broncos notched just 36 sacks all of last season and have needed to bolster their pass-rushing capabilities since trading away Bradley Chubb at the deadline. While veteran Randy Gregory remains under contract, he’s been unreliable for much of his NFL career due to injury and saw action in only six games last year.
Pairing Gregory with Smith, who had a resurgent 2022 campaign and notched 10 sacks, would give the Broncos a dangerous edge-rushing tandem when Gregory is healthy and insurance at the position when he’s not.
Detroit Lions: Reunite with Darius Slay
11 of 32
Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images
Lions receive: CB Darius Slay
Eagles receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 55)
The Detroit Lions came painfully close to making the playoffs last year. The team was ultimately hamstrung by its lackluster passing defense, a unit that gave up the third-most yardage in the league.
Those woes could disappear with a trade for cornerback Darius Slay.
Slay spent the first seven years of his career in the Motor City after the Lions drafted him in the second round in 2013. He made his lone All-Pro team during his tenure in Detroit and would again be a great fit on the current iteration of this roster.
With ESPN’s Dianna Russini noting that the Philadelphia Eagles granted the cornerback permission to seek a trade last week, Detroit should capitalize on Slay’s familiarity with the franchise as he looks for a new place to ply his trade.
The Eagles would benefit from the cap relief that comes from trading Slay, as he’s due to make $17 million in base salary and has a $26.1 million cap hit in the final year of his contract.
Given that Detroit is sitting on a pair of second-round picks in the upcoming draft, kicking one of those over to Philadelphia for a player who fills one of its biggest needs seems like a win for each side.
Green Bay Packers: Start a New Era by Grabbing Jordan Love More Weapons
12 of 32
David Eulitt/Getty Images
Packers receive: TE Albert Okwuegbunam
Broncos receive: 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 149)
The Green Bay Packers look like a lock to trade longtime quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets, so the draft will represent a time to load up on offensive weapons and protection for new starter Jordan Love.
Tight end is a spot the Packers must improve to help their young signal-caller. Robert Tonyan hasn’t been the same player who broke out with 11 touchdown catches in 2020 and is hitting free agency anyway. The club direly needs a safety valve who Love can rely on in crucial situations.
While the team could grab one of the available rookie tight ends, it’s a position that is notoriously difficult to make a quick and successful transition to the pros at. If the Packers wish to truly find out what they have in Love this coming season, trading for a veteran would be the better move.
Albert Okwuegbunam would be an interesting target, as the Denver Broncos’ 2020 fourth-round pick was expected to breakout last season after a promising sophomore campaign. Injuries limited him to eight games, however, and a sensational showing by rookie Greg Dulcich cost him playing time when he was available.
A fresh start could benefit Okwuegbunam greatly. The Missouri product is still just 24 years old and could be developed in tandem with Love. This is the type of low-risk, high-reward move Green Bay should make to remain competitive in the post-Rodgers era.
Houston Texans: Bring in a Proven Pass-Rusher
13 of 32
Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images
Texans receive: Edge Josh Allen
Jaguars receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 33)
The Houston Texans received a gut punch in the form of a Carolina Panthers leap up to the top of the draft. While the Texans no longer have their pick of the quarterback litter in this class, they should still go with a signal-caller at No. 2 to address the franchise’s most important need.
Houston can address arguably its second-most pressing roster issue via trade, however. The defense has holes up and down the lineup, with the edge being a spot that could use an injection of talent after relying on aging players such as Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison last year.
Josh Allen of the Jacksonville Jaguars would be a nice get for Houston. Allen is only 25 years old and coming off his third season with at least seven sacks in the four years since he was drafted No. 7 overall. While he hasn’t been a franchise-altering star by any means, he’s had his moments and could continue to improve.
Allen was surrounded by trade rumors leading up to the deadline back in November. He’s now headed into the final year of his rookie deal, meaning the Jaguars could opt to deal him to save nearly $11 million in cap space and avoid losing him for nothing after the season.
With Houston so flush in both draft capital and cap space, tossing an early second-rounder over to Jacksonville to get this deal done would make sense for both parties.
Indianapolis Colts: Go All-In for Lamar Jackson
14 of 32
Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images
Colts receive: QB Lamar Jackson
Ravens receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 4), 2024 first-round pick
The chances of the Indianapolis Colts landing a blue-chip quarterback prospect in the 2023 draft took a major hit after the Carolina Panthers moved up to No. 1 last week. With their options at No. 4 overall dwindling, the Colts may have to once again seek out a veteran to address their hole under center.
While the club has gone through a revolving door of over-the-hill veterans since Andrew Luck retired, this time, it should make a run at a star signal-caller still in his prime. There won’t be many available, but Indianapolis could potentially pry Lamar Jackson away from the Baltimore Ravens by simply making an offer the quarterback’s incumbent club won’t match.
Because Jackson was hit with the non-exclusive franchise tag, it would cost Indianapolis a pair of first-round picks in addition to the hefty contract it gives Jackson that would make Baltimore balk at matching.
Although this isn’t a direct “trade,” it’s the best move the Colts can make to finally get the Pro Bowl quarterback they’ve needed to contend again.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Snag Trevor Lawrence Another Wideout
15 of 32
William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Jaguars receive: WR Tee Higgins
Bengals receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 24), 2023 third-round pick (No. 88)
The Jacksonville Jaguars hit a home run with Trevor Lawrence at the top of the 2021 draft. He’s rapidly developing into one of the top players at his position and should be even better in 2023 on the heels of winning his franchise’s first playoff game in a half-decade.
One way to ensure Lawrence and the Jags make another run next season is to acquire more wide receiver talent. The team will have Calvin Ridley back in the fold after he served a season-long suspension for betting on games while he was away from his former team, but a quarterback of Lawrence’s caliber can never have too many weapons.
There’s a handful of veterans considered to be available, but Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals would be one of the best fits for Jacksonville.
The big-bodied wideout has been as consistent as they come during his first three years in the league, racking up over 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns on 215 catches during that span.
And while Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin recently scoffed at the idea of dealing the wide receiver, Cincinnati has to face a stark reality soon, however, that keeping Higgins, in addition to doling out megadeals for both Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, just may not be feasible.
That’s where the Jaguars come in and offer the No. 24 overall pick and No. 88 overall pick for his services this offseason.
While the Bengals may not want to deal one of the game’s top young wideouts to a contender within the AFC, that may be too strong an offer to say no to.
Kansas City Chiefs: Prepare for Title Defense with Top Wideout
16 of 32
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Chiefs receive: WR Brandin Cooks
Texans receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 63), 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 166)
The Chiefs made do with an unheralded group of wideouts this past season, but three of them—JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman and Justin Watson—are hitting the open market as free agents. The team will need to restock the position, and there’s no better way to do this than by bringing in a top-tier option.
Brandin Cooks has been unhappy toiling away for a losing franchise and is ready to move on from the Houston Texans’ rebuild before his entire prime is wasted. The Texans failed to find a trade for the 29-year-old at the deadline, but the organization will almost certainly ship him off after he was stripped of his captainship and made it clear he was displeased lingering in Houston.
Cooks would provide Patrick Mahomes with the best wideout he’s had since Tyreek Hill left and take some of the workload off Travis Kelce. While Kelce has still been performing at a high level, the tight end will be 34 next season and won’t remain a superstar forever.
Las Vegas Raiders: Find Derek Carr’s Replacement
17 of 32
Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images
Raiders receive: QB Mac Jones
Patriots receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 38), 2023 third-round pick (No. 70), 2023 sixth-round pick (No. 204)
After parting ways with their longtime starting quarterback, the Las Vegas Raiders are reportedly leaving no stone unturned when it comes to unearthing Derek Carr’s replacement.
One of the more unconventional paths the club could take is to trade for a young quarterback with a first-round pedigree who is still on his rookie deal. Extra points for being familiar with head coach Josh McDaniels’ system and even making a Pro Bowl appearance while playing under the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator.
It seems implausible, but the Raiders could be a fantastic fit for Jones, and the Patriots may even be willing to deal their signal-caller after Jones regressed and reportedly landed in head coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse last year.
Although ESPN’s Dan Graziano called it “unlikely” New England would execute such a move, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe noted that backup QB Bailey Zappe will get a real shot to usurp Jones as the starting signal-caller in Foxborough this year.
Zappe impressed while filling in for Jones in 2022, so it’s not too farfetched to think the Patriots could opt to collect a good bit of capital while turning their offense over to Zappe.
Los Angeles Chargers: Get As Many Cheap Contributors As Possible
18 of 32
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Chargers receive: 2023 second-round pick (No. 40), 2023 third-round pick (No. 71), 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 165)
Saints receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 21)
The cash-strapped Los Angeles Chargers went on a wave of contract restructuring to free up over $40 million in cap space this offseason. While they now have some breathing room, an extension for rising star quarterback Justin Herbert will soon eat up a significant amount of space.
To remain a contending squad following Herbert’s inevitable payday, the Bolts will need to stretch out the value of their draft selections and bring in a slew of useful pieces on cheap rookie deals.
Los Angeles can facilitate that goal by trading down from No. 21 overall during next month’s draft.
Shipping that pick over to a club like the New Orleans Saints—who have a desire to contend in the NFC after picking up Derek Carr this offseason and would benefit from a second first-rounder—in exchange for Nos. 40, No. 71 and No. 165 would let the Bolts restock the cupboard for cheap.
With some shrewd drafting, those selections could bear some significant fruit for the Chargers down the line.
Los Angeles Rams: Keep Remodeling by Dealing Disappointing Wideout
19 of 32
Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images
Rams receive: 2023 seventh-round pick (No. 256)
Packers receive: WR Allen Robinson II
The Los Angeles Rams may not be openly rebuilding—GM Les Snead prefers to call it a “remodel”—but it’s becoming apparent that the 2023 version of this squad will be lacking a few of the veterans it has deployed in recent years.
Allen Robinson II wasn’t a part of the team’s championship run in 2021 but was signed last March to help defend that title. He had his second consecutive dismal campaign, though, after posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Rams aren’t interested in having Robinson play out the remaining two years of his contract and have allowed him to seek a trade this offseason.
The Packers may be one of the squads willing to take a flier on A-Rob for the right price. His Pro Bowl upside may be worth them giving up a late-round pick, even after he only caught a pedestrian 33 passes for 339 yards and three scores in 10 games last year.
While the Day 3 pick the Rams receive in return won’t do much to help the remodel, getting Robinson off the books—even if it means they have to pay some of his salary—is a win at this point.
Miami Dolphins: Round Out the Offense with a Star Back
20 of 32
Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images
Dolphins receive: RB Derrick Henry
Titans receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 84)
The Miami Dolphins have been churning through running backs over the last few seasons, but none has emerged as a viable complement to the offense’s star-studded passing attack. That could change this offseason if they acquire Derrick Henry.
Henry has remained a premier back despite logging heavy usage over the last half-decade. While he suffered an injury that cost him more than half the 2021 campaign, he returned last year to play 16 contests and showed he still has something left in the tank.
Despite this resurgence, the Titans would benefit from a complete rebuild that involves dealing Henry for draft assets, as it has become obvious their current offensive core isn’t going to take them to a Super Bowl.
Although the 29-year-old isn’t going to be a long-term solution to Miami’s backfield woes, even the drafted players at this position rarely are.
Getting a couple of good seasons out of Henry would plug one of the team’s most glaring holes and round out an offense that needs to better protect quarterback Tua Tagovailoa following an injury-plagued 2022 campaign.
Minnesota Vikings: Snap Up a High-Upside Defender
21 of 32
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Vikings receive: ILB Isaiah Simmons
Cardinals receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 87), conditional 2024 second-round pick
Isaiah Simmons was expected to be a versatile defender who could play multiple positions and thrive regardless of where he lined up. The Arizona Cardinals drafted him at No. 8 overall in 2020, but thus far, he’s yet to live up to that billing.
After the Cardinals made a regime change, he could be one of the holdovers from the Steve Keim era shipped off in exchange for draft capital.
The Minnesota Vikings may want to jump on a rare opportunity to land a top-10 pick still on his rookie deal for a relative bargain. They have numerous holes on defense, and Simmons could conceivably plug at least one, if not quite a few of those.
According to Pro Football Focus (h/t Darren Urban of the Cardinals’ official website), Simmons took over 400 snaps at slot cornerback in 2022 and nearly 300 as a box defender. He also had 110 plays on the defensive line, 28 as a wide cornerback and 53 at free safety.
While Arizona isn’t simply going to give up on Simmons after he’s showed promise, it hasn’t committed to his fifth-year option either.
If Minnesota dangles a third-round pick this year and a conditional second-rounder next year, it could be enough to make the rebuilding Cardinals to move on.
New England Patriots: Trade Back As Usual
22 of 32
Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images
Patriots receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 24), 2023 third-round pick (No. 88), 2023 fourth-round pick (No. 121), 2023 sixth-round pick (No. 185)
Jaguars receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 14), 2023 sixth-round pick (No. 210)
New England has been no stranger to trading back during NFL drafts.
Head coach Bill Belichick loves to pick up additional assets in exchange for sliding down the board early. The Pats sent No. 21 to the Chiefs for No. 29 last year, picking up an extra third- and fourth-rounder in the process, and could deploy the familiar strategy again in 2023.
Selecting at No. 14 overall this time, the Patriots will likely survey the landscape before making a decision when they are on the clock. Barring a franchise-altering pick presenting itself—such as one of the top quarterbacks falling into their lap at the spot and a trade for Mac Jones materializing—a simple move down will help New England improve on its disappointing 2022 showing.
The Jacksonville Jaguars could be one of the clubs interested in taking New England’s position.
Moving up 10 spots from No. 24 overall would likely cost the club at least its third-round pick and one of its fourth-round selections—plus a sixth-round pick swap to sweeten the pot—but it would allow Jacksonville to convert some of its nine picks into a higher-quality prospect.
New England has historically done well with selections in the middle of the draft, and that shouldn’t change in 2023.
New Orleans Saints: Finally Move On from Michael Thomas
23 of 32
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Saints receive: 2023 seventh-round pick (No. 258)
Bears receive: WR Michael Thomas
The New Orleans Saints have been patient with Michael Thomas, but it’s clear the once-elite wide receiver and team could each use a fresh start.
The Saints made it much easier to deal the veteran by restructuring his contract in January. Thomas can now be traded without a team incurring exorbitant salary-cap hits.
While the returns won’t be great for a 30-year-old who hasn’t completed a full season in the past three years, the Saints should be willing to take just about anything in exchange for a player they would likely release regardless.
Although Thomas has suited up for a mere 10 games over the last three seasons, there should be at least a few teams willing to kick the tires on a talent who tallied an absurd 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019.
If Thomas was dangled for a late Day 3 pick, a squad like the Chicago Bears could be enticed to make the move. Should the three-time Pro Bowler return to form, he’d instantly elevate a passing game that lacked elite wideouts last year.
There’s a chance the Bears would get burned by Thomas suffering yet another injury, but the low cost of doing business won’t set the franchise back much if that occurs.
New York Giants: Bolster the Receivers Room
24 of 32
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Giants receive: WR Gabe Davis
Bills receive: 2023 third-round pick (No. 100)
The New York Giants receiving corps left a lot to be desired last year. The team still managed a run to the divisional round of the playoffs, but it needs to bring in better targets after signing quarterback Daniel Jones to a four-year contract extension this offseason.
With the G-Men reportedly looking for a wideout on the trade market, it could make sense for them to land on a playmaker head coach Brian Daboll is familiar with.
Gabe Davis is heading into the final year of his rookie deal after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2020. He spent his two seasons with Daboll as his offensive coordinator and had a career-best showing in 2022.
The 23-year-old will be seeking a contract extension, but the Bills may need to allocate funds elsewhere to field a championship-caliber roster. If Davis isn’t in their future plans, trading him now could provide them with a nice return rather than losing him for nothing after the season.
Davis would immediately slot in as one of New York’s top pass-catching options and could truly break out because of the lack of stars like Stefon Diggs to compete for touches with. It would be a great move for the Giants, especially if it only costs them a Day 2 pick.
New York Jets: Clear Safety Logjam
25 of 32
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Jets receive: 2023 seventh-round pick (No. 253)
49ers receive: S Jordan Whitehead
The New York Jets pulled off a shrewd trade to upgrade the safety position last week, bringing in Chuck Clark from the Ravens for a seventh-round pick.
The team can now try to recoup that selection and clear the positional logjam by dealing incumbent starter Jordan Whitehead.
Whitehead failed to live up to the two-year, $14.5 million deal he signed with Gang Green last year. He was a big-hitting force during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he missed eight tackles in 2022 and wasn’t much of an asset against the run.
A fresh start would benefit both sides, and the San Francisco 49ers could be the one to offer it. For a throwaway last-round pick, the Niners could take a flier on revitalizing Whitehead’s career and add a needed veteran safety into the mix.
Philadelphia Eagles: Move Up the Board To Reload for Another Run
26 of 32
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Eagles receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 5)
Seahawks receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 10), 2023 first-round pick (No. 30)
The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a run to the Super Bowl and barely missed out on claiming the organization’s second title in the last half-decade.
The squad only has a few needs after this impressive showing, which gives it the luxury of being able to home in on a generational talent in the draft rather than needing to spread out capital to bring in multiple pieces.
The Eagles could package their two first-rounders together to make a leap up into the top five. The Seattle Seahawks would be an ideal partner to execute this deal with, as they have quite a few holes to plug despite making a playoff berth in 2022.
A pair of first-rounders should be enticing enough. With Seattle’s No. 5 selection, the Eagles will put themselves in a position to potentially land a generational talent like Georgia’s Jalen Carter or Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Recoup Some Mid-Round Picks
27 of 32
Justin Casterline/Getty Images
Steelers receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 19), 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 153), 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 175)
Buccaneers receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 17)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are picking in the middle of the first round but would benefit from a slide down the board in order to regain some of the Day 3 picks they’ve given up.
They have zero selections between No. 120 in the fourth round and No. 234 in the seventh round. For an organization that prefers to build through the draft, this is a major gap where serviceable talent could be acquired.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Pittsburgh trade the No. 17 overall pick to a club like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a franchise that has multiple fifth-round picks.
Giving up No. 17 in exchange for Nos. 19, 153 and 175 would let the Steelers flesh out their roster with additional prospects in the latter rounds.
San Francisco 49ers: Capitalize on Wideout’s Value
28 of 32
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
49ers receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 14)
Patriots receive: WR Brandon Aiyuk
The San Francisco 49ers are loaded with good skill-position talent who have been rewarded handsomely for their efforts. With guys like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey all on big contracts, it’s going to be tough for the club to fit in a market-value deal for Brandon Aiyuk.
Aiyuk, a first-round pick in 2020, just had his first 1,000-yard season and notched a career-high eight touchdowns. He’s going to be due for a major extension soon, one the 49ers may not be able to offer.
With wide receivers recently netting big value in terms of capital during draft-day deals—Marquise Brown and A.J. Brown both returned at least a first-round pick for their services last year—the Niners could pull off a similar move by sending Aiyuk to the Patriots.
New England has long struggled to develop receivers in the Bill Belichick era. The club has had much better luck via trade, bringing in guys like Wes Welker and Randy Moss and deploying them to great effect.
The Pats could finally get the No. 1 wideout they’ve been coveting by giving up their first-rounder in exchange for Aiyuk, a deal the 49ers should be willing to take in order to avoid losing Aiyuk for nothing down the line.
Seattle Seahawks: Trade Out of the Top Five
29 of 32
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Seahawks receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 16), 2023 fourth-round pick (No. 118), 2024 first-round pick
Commanders receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 5)
The Seattle Seahawks didn’t need to wait long to unearth Russell Wilson’s replacement. With Geno Smith filling the void left by the longtime quarterback’s departure and recently earning a new deal from the club, the position is in good hands for at least the upcoming campaign.
That luxury allows the Seahawks to trade down from No. 5 overall and gain future assets from a club that is more desperate to land a top prospect. The Commanders fit the bill here as a team in need of a quarterback.
With three passers likely to come off the board early in Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young, Washington could at least put itself in the running to grab one by trading up from No. 16.
The Commanders would still need some things to break their way. Carolina is almost certainly selecting one of those prospects at No. 1 after trading up, but the three choices after remain up in the air. This will at least give Washington a chance to finally land the prized rookie signal-caller it has needed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trade Down To Prepare for Life Without Tom Brady
30 of 32
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Buccaneers receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 31), 2024 second-round pick, 2024 sixth-round pick
Chiefs receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 19)
The Buccaneers were a fringe contender in Tom Brady’s final year, but injuries and inconsistency cost the 2020 champions a chance to make a run. There are still some holdovers from that title-winning squad, but Tampa could be heading for a full-blown rebuild.
The Bucs haven’t exactly stockpiled assets, however, which makes the 2023 draft a good time for them to acquire a few more picks they could use to construct a winning team down the line.
Although their first-rounder isn’t the most enviable one at No. 19 overall, it’s a spot rival franchises may want to move into to secure a player they don’t want to risk missing out on.
The Chiefs could want to slide up a few spots to add a more well-regarded prospect than the ones they’d be picking from at No. 31.
Flipping that pick, as well as 2024 second- and sixth-round selections, would help out both sides. Kansas City would nab a better rookie who can help keep its dynasty going, while Tampa would add future value for when it has a better idea of where the franchise stands following the 2023 season.
Tennessee Titans: Dump Off their Quarterback
31 of 32
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Titans receive: 2023 fourth-round pick (No. 113)
Falcons receive: QB Ryan Tannehill
It’s time for the Tennessee Titans to jump-start their rebuild in a big way. While Ryan Tannehill has had a few solid seasons since the club acquired him in 2019, he regressed and dealt with injuries during a tough 2022 campaign.
By dealing both Tannehill and star running back Derrick Henry, Tennessee can get a clean slate and the draft capital to begin a rebuild.
The Falcons could have some interest in Tannehill because of the Arthur Smith connection. Smith was Tannehill’s offensive coordinator during his lone Pro Bowl campaign and is now Atlanta’s head coach. The 34-year-old veteran would be a quality temporary upgrade over Desmond Ridder—the Falcons’ third-round pick last year—and would give the young signal-caller more time to develop.
With Smith needing to produce some wins to improve his job security, pushing to add Tannehill for a mid-round pick could be the best move available to him. Tennessee should be happy to oblige and get a head start on finding its quarterback of the future.
Whether that is sophomore signal-caller Malik Willis or a future prospect remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Tannehill is no longer the right guy for the job.
Washington Commanders: Get More Draft Capital by Dealing Veteran
32 of 32
Justin Casterline/Getty Images
Commanders receive: 2023 first-round pick (No. 20)
Seahawks receive: DT Daron Payne
The Washington Commanders may have reached a long-term deal with Daron Payne, but that doesn’t mean he has to play for the organization in 2023. The club could still trade him for draft capital after his breakout season.
With Washington’s defensive line rife with talent, dealing Payne makes sense from a long-term financial standpoint.
Although the Commanders were able to fit in his new contract this year, there’s little chance they will be able to keep Payne around in addition to Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and Chase Young in the coming seasons.
The Seahawks desperately need to plug their defensive tackle-sized hole and could accomplish that goal by dealing the latter of their two first-round picks to the Commanders.
Given that Seattle finished with the third-worst defense against the run last year, Payne is a strong match for the club.